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Cashmere wool Print E-mail

Cashmere wool is a type of yarn made from fibers obtained from the Cashmere goat, or Pashmina. The name derives from an archaic spelling of Kashmir.

Classification 

Cashmere is characterized by its luxuriously soft fibers. For a natural goat fiber to be considered Cashmere, it must be under 18.5 micrometers in diameter and at least 3.175 centimeters long. It is noted as providing a natural light-weight insulation without bulk. Fibers are highly adaptable and are easily constructed into fine or thick yarns, and light to heavy-weight fabrics. Appropriate for all climates, a high moisture content allows insulation properties to change with the relative humidity in the air.

The finest fibers are gathered from the saddle of the Cashmere goat; most of the cashmere comes off of the sides and back, from the shoulder to the rump. It is a misconception that the finest fibers come from the neck and belly, as these parts most collect debris. If the goat is shorn, the fiber must be "de-haired" to remove the coarse, unusable guard hair. Sometimes the fine fibers are collected by combing the goat; either method is time consuming and tedious, thus the high cost of cashmere.

Source of the fiber 

The Cashmere (Kashmir) or goat down is the source of the wool that becomes cashmere fiber for clothing and other textile articles. The goat (Capra hircus laniger) is a mammal belonging to the subfamily Caprinae of the family Bovidae. The goats produce a double fleece consisting of the fine, soft undercoat or underdown of hair mingled with a straighter and much coarser outer coating of hair called guard hair. In order for the fine under down to be sold and processed further, it must first be de-haired. De-hairing is a mechanical process that separates the coarse hairs from the fine hair and after de-hairing the resulting "cashmere" is ready to be dyed and converted into yarn, fabrics and garments.

Geographic origin 

The name is from the contested region of Kashmir. The cashmere products of this area first attracted the attention of Europeans in the early 1800s when India was under the British Raj. The goats reside predominantly in the high plateaus of Asia with the most significant populations being found in India's Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, Pakistan, himalayan regions of Nepal, the northwestern provinces of China (Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Gansu, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Qinghai and Tibet), Mongolia and Iran (Kerman and Khorasan provinces).

Many nations in that area rely on cashmere as a luxury product.

Gathering 

Specialty animal hair fibers including cashmere are collected during the spring moulting season when the animals naturally shed their winter coat. Depending on the weather and the region, the goats (in the Northern Hemisphere) moult over a period beginning as early as March and as late as May.

In some regions, the mixed mass of down and coarse hair is removed by hand with a coarse comb that pulls tufts of fiber from the animal as the comb is raked through the fleece. The collected fiber then has a higher yield of pure cashmere after the fiber has been washed and dehaired. The long, coarse guard hair is then typically clipped from the animal and is often used for brushes, interlinings and other non-apparel uses. Animals in Iran, Afghanistan, New Zealand and Australia are typically shorn of their fleece, resulting in a higher coarse hair content and lower pure cashmere yield. In America, the most popular method is combing. The process takes up to two weeks but, with a trained eye for when the fiber is releasing, sometimes it is possible to comb the fibers out in about a week.

Source: Wikipedia.org
 

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